Science Fiction Film & Television

States of weightlessness: cosmonauts in film and television

Science Fiction Film & Television (2009), 2, (2), 205–224.

Abstract

This essay looks at post-Soviet constructions of Soviet cosmonauts in documentary and feature film. The cosmonaut is a figure of tragedy, tied to an ideological system that is doomed to fail, his heroism a futile venture into an empty void. It is, however, this tragedy that also makes the cosmonaut aesthetically appealing. The documentary Stan niewazkosci (State of Weightlessness; 1994) overdubs cosmonauts bemoaning the perils of outer space with footage of the Earth from Mir and other orbiting platforms. The combination of tragedy and beauty adds up to a sublime cinematic experience. American features have also used this idea of the tragic cosmonaut. In Armageddon (1994) tragedy turns into comedy, as the cosmonaut aboard a labyrinthine, clunky old Mir is played for laughs. In such representations the cosmonaut's loner qualities are redeemed from his place in history.

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Author details

Jorgensen, Darren

Jorgensen, Darren